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LN: Ethics commission solves bullying at Czech embassies

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Prague, Feb 14 (CTK) – A new commission of ethics and a psychologist at the Foreign Ministry deal with the cases of workplace bullying at Czech embassies abroad, daily Lidove noviny (LN) wrote on Tuesday.

The six-member commission started working informally in September 2015 and officially in January.

It interferes in serious cases of misbehaviour by superiors or subordinates that they are not able to tackle on their own, LN adds.

“Before we introduced the new system, such problems were often not solved at all,” state secretary Petr Gajdusek told LN.

The commission has investigated 12 cases in a year, respectively 14, as in two cases, both a superior and a subordinate complained about one another.

Four cases ended up in a settlement. The head of a diplomatic mission was dismissed in two cases and six subordinates were sent home from a foreign mission.

“The elementary trust in the system must be restored. The commission of ethics is not like a stick for either the superiors or subordinates, we investigate all cases thoroughly. We are trying to change the habits that have existed there for decades, we want to solve problems,” Gajdusek said.

LN writes that the Czech Republic has 117 diplomatic missions abroad. Some 400 employees annually rotate between the Foreign Ministry’s headquarters in Prague and embassies and consulates abroad. A total of 663 people have a diplomatic status of the Czech Republic, including ambassadors, counsellors and attaches.

The life at a foreign embassy is like living “in a specific bubble” in which a small team jointly works and spends private time, often in one building and in completely different cultural conditions and sometimes in a dangerous territory, LN writes.

This exerts an extreme pressure on the employees that is hard to bear. The Foreign Ministry’s psychologist Eva Pavlovska has confirmed a high interest in her courses and a rising number of employees who want to talk about their troubles. The aim is the prevention of conflicts, she added.

As a paradox, the ministry originally recruited a psychologist to help primarily the embassy staff in challenging destinations, such as Kabul, Damascus and Baghdad, or in countries with hard living conditions, for instance, in Africa. However, it has turned out that the teams work well at these diplomatic missions.

“More resistant personalities seek posts there, they are more flexible and tolerant in human relations,” Pavlovska said.

On the contrary, the most serious conflicts appear in comfortable and lucrative destinations in Europe and North America, she added.

One of the reasons is that the ego of the employees in luxurious residences tend to get “hypertrophied.” People in high diplomatic posts are often excellent experts in their fields and they represent the country very well, but they desperately lack managerial skills and coolness in common conflict situations, LN writes.

If a case of bossing or other misbehaviour occurs, a state secretary travels to the respective diplomatic mission, followed by a psychologist who spends a couple of days there observing the situation and talking to the people involved.

The Foreign Ministry always tries to solve any conflict with a settlement and make the parties in dispute reach a compromise and change their behaviour. However, it this fails, the person who caused the problem is recalled eventually, LN writes.

The investigated cases have proved that nothing happens out of the blue. Most of the diplomats who were recalled had similar problems in the past. It was known that they were not capable of management and work in a team, but yet they were sent abroad again, LN adds.

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